Esther’s Rise as Queen

There are some interesting deductions that can be made with regard to the date and time of Esther’s being chosen as the new queen of the Persian Empire. Although the timing of these events is not obvious to a casual reader of the book, closer inspection does allow for the creation of a fairly precise timeline. Note the following:

  • Both the Hebrew and Persian calendars were lunar-based, and their New Year began in about March/April in the Julian calendar (the exact time fluctuated from year to year, as the date for Easter does today). Thus Xerxes’s 3rd year began in about March of 483 BC and ended in about March of 482 BC.
  • Xerxes’s main military campaign against Greece commenced in the spring of his 6th year, 480 BC. The first season ended with the defeat of the Persian fleet at Salamis in September. Apparently the main Persian military force wintered over in Greece, while Xerxes himself returned to Susa.
  • Esther was chosen as queen in the 10th month of the seventh year of Xerxes (Esth 2:16), which equates to December 479 or January 478. However, this was preceded by a period of 12 months of preparation (Esth 2:12), indicating that the search for a new queen began in the previous winter.
  • During that year of preparation, between the start of the search for a new queen and the pronouncement of Esther as queen, Xerxes’s military units met with disastrous defeat in Greece. In August of 479, his land forces were defeated at Plataea, and his naval forces were defeated at the Battle of Mycale at nearly the same time. This effectively marked the last gasp of the Persian drive to take over Greece.

A timeline of these events is available here.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *